ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A man is behind bars after deputies say he used multiple ways of torture to abuse a 2-year-old.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office says the girl’s mother brought her to the hospital with the suspicion of ringworm. Deputies say the ER doctors immediately determined the ring marks on the child were burn marks.
Andrew Bennett Ross Celaius, 37, was arrested and has been charged with aggravated child abuse and tampering of evidence.
“It’s the thing nightmares are made of and no child should ever be subjected to this,” said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan.
After searching the home, the sheriff’s office found a substantial amount of video and photo evidence of abuse taken on home surveillance and cellphone video.
The sheriff’s office says video showed Celaius throwing water bottles at the child to wake her up. Investigators say he would also use a lighter to burn the child. Video also shows Celaius shooting the child with an airsoft gun in order to wake her up.
Video showed him wearing a werewolf mask during the abuse.
The sheriff’s office says the most disturbing video shows the child wearing a dog shock collar. They said you could hear the child shrieking whenever the shock collar was triggered.
“There’s no words to describe why someone would hurt and intentionally damage and harass someone just trying to sleep. It’s a terrible thing to see,” said Chief Deputy Chip Simmons.
Deputies say another man, Eric Furnans, 36, was arrested in connection to the case, where he will be charged with tampering of evidence. The sheriff’s office says Celaius called Furnans from jail asking him to destroy cellphones.
The sheriff’s office says the mother of the 2-year-old was arrested and charged with neglect. She has bonded out. The sheriff’s office says they believe she was unaware of the abuse. She is fully cooperating with the investigation.
The sheriff’s office says they’re continuing to search through the video evidence. There is a possibility of additional charges for Celaius. Deputies also continue to investigate the possibility of sexual abuse toward the 2-year-old.
Celaius has a criminal history, including a 2006 case where he was charged in the homicide of a 2-year-old. He was acquitted in that case.
Kirsten Bucey leads the Child Protection Team at the Gulf Coast Kid’s House and they have a partnership with law enforcement in these types of cases.
“We have specially trained pediatricians and nurse practitioners who are trained to diagnose abuse and neglect and determine if injuries are consistent with accidents or if they’re inflicted,” Bucey said. “I think the community would be surprised at the amount of egregious abuse we see right here in Escambia County.”
A spokesperson for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office says Celaius was taken from the jail to the hospital Wednesday around 11 p.m. for unknown reasons. He was not housed in general population, but protective. ECSO says they cannot comment on his medical condition.